State Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews - aka Sen. Fracking, Sen. GiveUsYourAirport and Sen. Stop Wasteful Government Spending - is leaving today with other North Carolina legislators of both parties to observe how fracking is done in Arkansas. Rucho co-chairs the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy. The lawmakers will attend meetings in Little Rock today, visit Arkansas' Department of Environmental Quality tomorrow and then head out Friday for the fracking operations being run by Southwestern Energy, which is hosting the legislators' meetings.
As the (Raleigh) News & Observer notes in its valuable "Under the Dome" political blog, Southwestern Energy also operates in Pennsylvania, where more than a dozen families sued the company in 2010, claiming that its drilling sites contaminated their water supply and made them sick. In addition, a Southwestern Energy representative served on a "stakeholder panel" that advised North Carolina's Mining and Energy Commission, which is producing this state's fracking regulations.
Such coziness with corporations that are looking to make money in North Carolina is par for the course for Rucho. In 2011, Rucho took two trips with legislative delegations to fracking sites, hosted by Chesapeake Energy - a company that had to pay record-breaking fines for contaminating water supplies in a Pennsylvania community as a result of fracking. None of that fazed Rucho, who is chomping at the bit to let big gas companies make a fortune in our state by fracking.
As during the 2011 trips, no environmental groups will be consulted during this week's trip to Arkansas. When asked why not, Rucho replied that "we have enough environmental groups here." Which would be a halfway legitimate reply, IF Rucho ever listened to North Carolina environmental groups. Since the current trip is for "fact-finding," it would make sense to hear what Arkansas environmental groups have to say about the way fracking is being carried out in that state - if only so Rucho & Co. could claim they're listening to both sides. If the lawmakers decide to meet with Arkansas enviros after all, they'll no doubt hear about the earthquakes in that state, linked to underground injections of wastewater - wastewater that Arkansas still doesn't know what to do with and is temporarily being hauled to Oklahoma.
It's noteworthy, not to mention deliciously ironic, that even though this is the third trip Rucho has taken to out-of-state fracking sites, accompanied by a full legislative delegation no less, he still talks about doing away with wasteful spending in state government. Matter of fact, it's one of the highlighted points on his website http://www.bobrucho.com/issues.htm . Taking multiple showboating trips in order to pump up support for one of your favorite projects doesn't constitute cutting wasteful spending, senator.